College Basketball Game of the Week: Butler vs. Villanova
On Tuesday night, college basketball fans can tune in for a Big East top-15 matchup as the Butler Bulldogs take on the Villanova Wildcats. Both teams will be looking to add a big win to their tournament resume and climb closer to the top of the Big East. Let’s see how both teams stack up heading into this anticipated matchup:
No. 13 Butler
The Bulldogs will be looking to end a two-game losing streak after being defeated by Depaul and Seton Hall last week. Butler started 15-1 with that only loss coming to No. 1 Baylor.
Butler’s breakout season may come as a surprise to some, but coach Jordan’s team is led by many upperclassmen such as Kamar Baldwin and Sean McDermott. Baldwin averages 15.1 points and 2.9 assists for the Bulldogs, which come in at first and second on the team respectively.
His counterpart, McDermott, is the only other Bulldog averaging double digits with 11.1 points per game while pulling in 5.5 rebounds a game as well. Overall, Butler is a deep and experienced team that will be extremely hungry for a win.
No. 9 Villanova
Villanova comes off a nail-biting win against UCONN this past weekend and will look to extend its winning streak to five. The Wildcats hold a 14-3 record with an impressive win against Kansas. Jay Wright’s squad has an all-around attack as four starters average double-figure scoring along with freshman Justin Moore off the bench.
Contrary to Butler, Villanova is rather young with only two upperclassmen being main contributors. Sophomore Saddiq Bey is leading the Wildcats with 15.1 points and just over five rebounds a contest as well.
Freshman Jermaine Robinson-Earle is nearing a double-double average with 10.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in his first year out of IMG academy. With the AP’s coach of the decade in Jay Wright, Villanova can never be counted out of a game. Expect Wright to have his whole team engaged and ready for the bulldogs.
Keys to the Game
There is no doubt that the Finneran Pavillion will be rocking and Villanova will use that to its advantage. To have a chance to win, Butler will need to come out hot and let Baldwin shoot early and often. The Bulldogs need to control the glass and limit their opponent’s second-chance points as Villanova has three players who average over five rebounds a game.
On the other end, Villanova needs to continue to move the ball around and keep all five players on the court engaged and a valuable threat on the offensive end. With so many threats, it’s going to be tough for Butler to play 40 minutes of perfect team defense.
Expect both teams to come out firing, but better defense prevailing early on. In a lower-scoring contest, Villanova should have many more options to get needed baskets in crunch time.
This game should be tight for the whole game but with Villanova playing at home and having a more balanced attack, it should be able to get the win. Barring a horrible shooting night from deep, expect Villanova to win by six to 10 points.
Prediction: Villanova 66, Butler 58
Charlie Knezevic is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.